Gritty display earns Exiles a historical point

Sliema 11 Exiles 11

(3-3) (3-3) (2-3) (3-2)

It was definitely Exiles’ best performance so far this season and there is no doubt that Italian mentor Maurizio Mirarchi’s tactics seem to be bearing fruit. The way the players have responded last night after the debacle a few days earlier against the same team in the Knock-Out competition clearly indicates that good results could be obtained if the players in the water follow the instructions from the bench. The precious point won last night is a stimulant for the next set of matches – especially those against teams of our calibre and there is no doubt that slowly but surely the mentality of the whole team is changing and pointing towards better future displays.

The encounter was indeed a balanced affair in the first two quarters at 6-6 and in the third session, one was expecting the usual first signs of fatigue in the Exiles team  due to a short bench. This failed to happen with the score reading 8-9 in favour of the Blues before the start of the last session. Exiles were also boosted by the sending off for good during the third quarter of Ivan Basara – one of Sliema’s foreign players. In my view this had a ‘negative’ effect on our boys as they seemed to have eased the throttle to squander a few chances in the attack and concede goals that could have been avoided. In the final session the team did show its resilience when they scored three consecutive goals without a reply to turn the match in their favour 11-9 before losing the grip of this advantage  in the last two minutes and even risked go home empty-handed.

From the stands the solid defending with shifting to cover the more dangerous opponent was evident. Ian Bugeja was crucial with his saves in critical moments of the match. In the attack all players should be commended for their responsibility to pot at goal and as the scorers list clearly indicates, the goals were evenly spread.  This was also due to Sliema’s tactics to block Luka Sikulic and Gergerly Katonas out of the game with at times two players shadowing each one of them and risking shots from the rest of the team. In fact this proved to be Mirarchi’s trump card as Peter Borg, David Pace Lupi, Julian Rizzo Naudi, Kayne Lanzon and Kurt Griscti kept Ryan Coleiro busy with hard crackers.

Mirarchi made use of the following players: Ian Bugej, Julian Rizzo Naudi (1 goal), Simon Vassallo, David Pace Lupi (2 goals), Gergerly Katonas (2 goals), Kurt Griscti (1 goal), Luka Sekulic (2 goals), Peter Borg (2 goals) and Kayne Lanzon (1 goal).

For the record this draw was the first one achieved by the Club against Sliema in a league fixture though in 2011, Exiles beat Sliema on a two-leg semi-final in the Knock-Out Competition.

Our next match is on Wednesday 16th July against San Giljan oat 20.00 at the National Pool Tal-Qroqq.






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